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Welcome to the 1 June Warehouse & Logistics News. Here’s a bright and sunny story to cheer you up – Transport Intelligence’s latest Global Business Confidence Index shows a “significant return of optimism”. The index, tracking logistics market confidence 12 months hence, weakened slightly in April from +1.05 to -4.43, but there was far more positive sentiment about the future. Overall the index moved from February’s -26 score to April’s +4, contrasting strongly with February and March’s overwhelmingly negative expectations.

John Manners-Bell, Chief Executive of pollsters Ti, agrees the past month’s confidence rebound has been significant, but his tone remains cautious: “Although industry executives are more confident about the future, present market conditions continue to weaken, albeit slightly. It is too early to call an upturn, but we should not be blind to the positive sentiment our Index reveals.”

In the survey contract logistics executives indicated the highest confidence in the present market and had most optimism about the future. Express sector executives also expected a strong rebound, with Intermodal executives foreseeing the weakest market conditions a year hence.

If you’ve got your eyes on running your business now rather than predicting the future, don’t miss our two features, Pallets and Conveyors. As the Conveyors intro puts it, overhead conveyors are perhaps the most productive conveyors of all, and can prove far more cost-effective than forklifts, AGVs and trolleys. The latest overhead conveyors harness IT to a level of control that turns them into “factories in the sky,” automatically interfacing with handling devices like AGVs, robots and lifts and communicating with WMS systems.

In the more down to earth realm of Pallets, the high volume throughputs and working speeds of today’s warehouse and logistics operations put pressure on traditional timber pallets’ performance. In addition, pallets in automated handling systems must meet these applications’ exacting demands, and export pallets must comply with the ISPM15 standard or the goods face being delayed entering various countries.

It’s prompted the rise of the plastic pallet, with leading UK independent supplier Goplasticpallets.com, seeing sales increase 30% since 2007. As the company’s Jim Hardisty points out in our interview, plastic pallets’ size and weight remain constant throughout their life, whereas wood pallets used in automated conveying operations can get distorted, crack and break, with serious consequences. Meanwhile the timber lobby is keen to defend its territory, with TIMCON President John Dye maintaining there are “a number of serious question marks over plastic’s suitability as an alternative.” To be continued!

Have a successful month.

Warehouse & Logistics News

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